By Brandon HENSLEY
Forget about a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – there’s no wrong way to eat a chocolate covered mug from Jerry’s Soda Shoppe.
Mayer Alson knows all about it. The most common way is to gnaw at the chocolate when it becomes a bit less frozen.
“Of course you have to watch your teeth,” he said.
So his go-to move is to finish off the soda with the glass completely empty, then turn it upside down on the plastic plate it comes served with. Then he takes his spoon and carefully shaves off the chocolate 360 degrees around.
Applying different methods has become all the rage now at the soda shoppe, located inside DeSoto Pharmacy in Canoga Park, which is owned and operated by La Crescenta resident Dave Meyers. Those eager to cool off from the summer heat can order an ice cream soda, and they’ll get a lot – soda, scoops of Lappert’s Ice Cream from Hawaii, and whipped cream with a cherry on top. But the hook to all of it is that the mug the frozen treat is served in is dipped in chocolate.
Maybe Alson has perfected his style because he works part time at the pharmacy. Meyers also has a method, where he likes to put his thumb on the rim of the glass and pry up the chocolate with the spoon.
“There are some people that have mastered getting the chocolate off,” Meyers said. “If you wait until the glass warms up a little bit, it starts melting. It softens up but the outside’s still hard so the thing is chipping off.”
DeSoto Pharmacy, which opened in 1959, has been owned by the Meyers family since 1985. They put in Jerry’s Soda Shoppe in 1996, named after Dave’s father who passed away in 2011. The shop has been serving the sodas since the beginning, but it wasn’t until 2002 did they dip the glasses.
Meyers said he was in Hawaii and was in a restaurant for a birthday. A dessert was brought out on a chilled plate with frozen chocolate that spelled out Happy Birthday. He decided he wanted something more visceral for Jerry’s.
“When we came up with the chocolate dip, visually it brought the hidden characteristics of the soda,” he said. “You can go to so many places and get a float or a shake but it’s not the same. It’s like having a really good burger.”
Now, in the age of Facebook and smartphones, his ice cream soda is being nationally recognized. It was featured this summer in Food Network magazine as the best frozen treat in California and the Cooking Channel spotlighted the treat for its Ice Cream Nation segment.
The attention is due in a large part to people in recent years snapping pictures of the soda and sending them out online or to friends. (Jerry’s other menu items include sandwiches and Alson’s other favorite, a banana split.)
“It’s nice to know you’re appreciated and you’re valued,” Meyers said. “We put our heart and soul into what we make here. We use the finest, quality ingredients that I’ve come across. I love ice cream personally, so I’m kind of a snob.”
The atmosphere of the pharmacy, as well as Jerry’s, is reminiscent of classic Americana, but Meyers is proud to say that feel was generated naturally. He pointed to one review of the place on Yelp that said, “That place isn’t trying to be anything [specific]. They’re just themselves.”
Meyers grew up in Northridge, but has lived in La Crescenta for over a decade. When he was dating his wife Jen, they were at a house in Whiting Woods and he saw a white owl fly overhead.
“I want to live here. Someday I’m going to live here,” he recalled saying.
Now Meyers enjoys going to places like Paradis Ice Cream and Zeke’s Smokehouse – he’s really high on its burger – saying both offer something unique rather than what the average chain restaurant has.
He was disappointed when Rocky Cola closed last year and, though he recognizes the free market aspect of the economy, he’s not wild about both The Coffee Bean and Starbucks being several feet of each other in the Montrose Shopping Park.
“I would not like to see another chain move in,” he said. Would he ever consider opening up something like Jerry’s Soda shop in La Crescenta?
“Sure. Nothing’s off the table. I think if the community wants it, it comes,” he said.